Actor-cum-author Ed Begley Jr. is trying to green America, and his publisher, Clarkson Potter, is doing its part to lend a hand. For Begley's March release, Living like Ed, the Random House imprint is making a dramatic investment in electronic galleys, in the process reducing its paper consumption and saving some money. While Clarkson Potter is planning to use more e-galleys in the future, publicists believe it will still be some time before most reviewers and other members of the press will forgo print galleys for the electronic editions.

With traditional publicity campaigns relying on anywhere from hundreds to thousands of galleys, the allure of e-galleys is undeniable: they cost less and are better for the environment. With the latter in mind, Clarkson Potter marketing director Sydney Webber said that Begley's book—it's spun off his HGTV show, Living with Ed, in which he promotes the green lifestyle—offered a perfect opportunity to test the e-galley model. Wedding the book's theme to a greener publishing model, Potter hired an outside firm, Nxtbook Media, to create a digital galley that members of the press can access (with a password delivered via e-mail). With turnable digital pages, the file delivers the “look and feel” of an actual book, Webber said.

Noting that she thinks e-galleys serve heavily illustrated books particularly well, Webber said Potter has plans to promote more titles electronically. In summer 2008 both Equestrian Style and Luxury Bathroom will be predominantly delivered to the press electronically, while four more titles will get the e-galley treatment in fall '08. In all cases, however, Potter will provide a limited number of print galleys, although Webber wouldn't say how many.

But not everyone believes the media is as forward-thinking as Webber does. Mary Kate Maco, head of publicity at Harvard University Press, wanted to invest in e-galleys until she heard what review editors had to say on the subject. Maco had her marketing staff contact book review editors at PW, the New Yorker, the New York Times and other publications, and all the respondents said they wouldn't accept electronic editions for review. Other publicity directors, many at Random House, agreed that press folk still want bound galleys. “At the moment, I think the world at large is not ready [for e-galleys],” said Knopf publicity director Nicholas Latimer.

The security of electronic files can be remains a concern for some. “It seems to take only days before our 'old-fashioned' advance bound proofs appear for sale on eBay or Amazon, so I can only imagine how quickly electronic galleys would be hacked and distributed,” said Christian Purdy, director of publicity at Oxford University Press.

Webber, though, isn't concerned about piracy. And Ted Treanor, head of netGalley, a company that is creating a digital galley turnkey system, said his company takes the piracy issue very seriously. “Publishers are uncomfortable having their files on the Internet. It's a scary deal,” Treanor acknowledged. This is why netGalley, like Nxtbook Media, embraces a model in which files aren't individually delivered to anyone. Instead, reviewers and members of the press are alerted that a galley is available and are e-mailed a password to access the file. NetGalley allows users to download the file and request a print copy; both companies track how many people have viewed the file.

Treanor, who launched netGalley this spring with the Hachette SF imprint Orbit (Foreword, Apr. 9), has been working on upgrades to the site, including more multimedia components. He expects to announce agreements with other publishers to test the site in a few weeks and more next year. (PW is also in talks with Treanor to use his service to handle the hundreds of reviews it does each month.)

Still, many are moving forward carefully and slowly into this brave new e-world. Alex Lencicki, marketing and publicity director at Orbit, said the imprint is using electronic galleys as a complement to traditional review copies. “For the moment we're looking at e-galleys as a supplement for expanding the reach [of our publicity campaigns]. If there was huge enthusiasm for a book, we wouldn't forgo traditional print galleys.”